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Strong Six-Months for U.S. Red Meat Exports
USAgNet - 08/08/2017

U.S. pork and beef exports continued to trend above year-ago levels in June, capping a very strong first half of the year. According to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, exports also achieved higher values on a per-head-slaughtered basis and accounted for a steady-to-higher percentage of total production.

June beef exports were the largest of 2017, reaching 109,554 metric tons--up 11 percent year-over-year and the largest June total since 2011. Export value increased 10 percent to $602.5 million. For January through June, beef exports were up 12 percent in volume (606,876 mt) and 15 percent in value ($3.35 billion) compared to the first half of last year.

Exports accounted for nearly 13 percent of total U.S. beef production in June and 10 percent for muscle cuts only -- each about even with a year ago. The ratios were the same for January through June, which was also steady with the first half of last year. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $264.51 in June, up 6 percent from a year ago. Through June, per-head export value was up 8 percent to $269.21.

Pork exports totaled 200,229 mt in June, up 6 percent year-over-year and the largest June volume on record, valued at $527.1 million, up 4 percent. This pushed the first-half total to 1.25 million mt valued at $3.21 billion -- up 13 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

Exports accounted for 27 percent of total pork production (up more than one percentage point from a year ago) in June and 22 percent for muscle cuts only (steady with last year). For the first half, with production at a record pace, both ratios increased significantly from a year ago. The percentage of total production jumped from 25.3 percent to 27.8 percent, and for muscle cuts the increase was from 21.4 percent to 23 percent. Export value per head slaughtered in June was up 1 percent to $53.41 and the first-half average increased 12 percent to $54.09.

"In this time of large red meat production, the upward trend in per-head export value and in the percentage of production exported is especially critical to the industry," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "These metrics confirm that we're not simply exporting more red meat because more is available -- those exports are also generating excellent returns. It was also gratifying to see that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed in June due to an expansion of exports, knowing that the red meat industry made another solid contribution toward that effort."

Beef exports to leading market Japan continued to gain momentum in June, with volume up 7 percent to 27,521 mt and value up 13 percent to $174.4 million (the highest since 2000). First-half exports to Japan exceeded last year's pace by 23 percent in volume (150,812 mt) and 28 percent in value ($905.8 million). This included a 40 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 70,807 mt, valued at $511 million (up 38 percent), as the U.S. captured more than 50 percent of the chilled beef market. While demand for U.S. beef is very strong in Japan's retail and foodservice sectors, frozen exports to Japan face a higher tariff rate through March 2018. See more details on this issue online.

June exports to South Korea were the largest since January at 14,701 mt, up 14 percent from a year ago, valued at $92.4 million (up 20 percent and the highest of 2017). First-half exports to Korea were up 13 percent in volume (83,357 mt) and 21 percent in value ($527.7 million). The U.S. also captured more than 50 percent of Korea's chilled beef market as chilled exports totaled 18,816 mt (up 83 percent year-over-year) valued at $166 million (up 86 percent).

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